How to Prune Various Types of Fruit Trees
Fruit tree pruning instructions and equipment. When and how to prune deciduous and evergreen fruit trees. Citrus, tropical and stone fruit tree trimming guide.
Fruit Growers Using Stilts to Prune Trees in Half the Usual Time
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Most deciduous fruit trees must be carefully pruned each year in order to keep them healthy and productive. Regular pruning can also keep the trees low enough that the fruit can be harvested without the use of ladders.
Different methods are employed when pruning evergreen trees. Evergreen subtropical and tropical fruit tree pruning is much easier than pruning stone fruits.
Tropical and citrus fruits do not need much pruning but you may want to prune them to limit their size or control their shape.
Citrus trees, for example, make beautiful, dense, thorny hedges that will keep your neighbors dog out of your garden. They do not mind being clipped into various shapes and will take any amount of pruning.
A citrus hedge will still bloom and produce some fruit, albeit less than if it were allowed to grow into a more natural shape.
When to Prune Fruit Trees
The best time to prune trees depends on the type of tree. Fruit trees that drop their leaves in the fall and go dormant are best pruned while they are still asleep. Late winter or early spring.
If the tree is at all tender, wait until spring.
Deciduous fruit trees requite fairly extensive yearly pruning. It’s easiest to carry this out while the tree is naked and you can clearly see where to make your pruning cuts.
If you prune fruit trees of this type in the summer, they will often respond by sending up water sprouts. These are shoots that grow straight up from the main branches. They are a nuisance that will have to be removed the following spring.
Pruning evergreens is not so seasonal. They can be cut back at any time unless you are growing them where they are not reliably winter hardy. In that case, don’t prune them in late fall or winter.
Fruit Tree Pruning Instructions
Never make your thinning cuts flush with the trunk or branch you are cutting back to.
Flush cuts open a tree up to insect invasion and disease problems.
Always leave a quarter inch branch collar.
In pruning fruit trees, you will use 2 types of cuts: thinning and heading.
Thinning cuts completely remove a branch or shoot where it joins the tree. Thinning cuts keep fruit trees open to air and light. Air circulation prevents fungal disease from taking hold on the tree or its crop and good sunlight penetration leads to heavier cropping and better ripening.
To decrease the size of a fruit tree without altering its basic shape, thin its main branches back to shorter side branches.
Heading cuts remove only part of a branch or shoot. This forces dormant buds below the cut to wake up and begin to grow. This is a good cut to use when you want to create a fuller, thicker tree or to shape a tree into a bush as it reduces the height.
When you shear a hedge, that is a type of heading.
Follow these fruit tree pruning instructions and you’ll have healthy, productive trees.
Tree Pruning Equipment
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When pruning young trees with branches under half an inch thick, you can use any good, sharp, hand-held bypass pruning shears or a lopper.
For trees with branches more than half an inch thick, you will need a tree pruning saw. Folding pruning saws are inexpensive and will work for pruning low branches. If these thick branches are above your head, you will need to invest in a cordless pole pruning saw.
Power pruning tools will not be needed unless you need to do remedial pruning of major branches. A chain saw is the only tool for this job.
You may wish to use a power shear to prune long rows of hedges. I don’t have a hedge row, just a few trees sheared into shrubs around the yard.
I switched from a hand shear to a cordless Black & Decker HedgeHog 2 years ago and I’ll never go back to hand shearing. The HedgeHog makes such quick work of pruning shrubs. I can do the whole yard on 1 charge.
It’s light weight is what initially sold me on it. My arms don’t ache after using it like they did with the first one we bought which was gas powered.
The following links lead to pages containing more specific pruning tips:
Everything you will ever need to know about pruning citrus trees. All varieties and types of citrus are pruned in the same fashion so this 1 set of fruit tree pruning instructions fits all citrus trees.
Fig fruit tree pruning. Instructions for pruning a fig tree into a bush or a vase-shaped tree.
Figs are pruned to control their height and shape and to produce a better main crop. Proper fig tree pruning also plays an important role in keeping the tree and its crop healthy.